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Suggested Answers to Discussion Questions for
Learning Guide to LOOKING FOR RICHARD


1.  [Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film]. [No suggested Answers.]

Exercises in Iambic Pentameter
The five questions set out below are designed to be used in order as a short unit to teach iambic pentameter. See A Brief Introduction to Shakespeare's Meter.

Define iambic pentameter ("da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM") and give some examples of other meters used in poetry.

2.  Write out the first ten lines of the speech by King Edward in Act II, Scene I, which begins "Have I a tongue to doom .... " Underline the stresses. Identify the metric feet with irregular rhythm. What metrical devices, such as variations in the rhythm, different stresses within the iambic pentameter framework, caesura, and repetition of sounds, does Shakespeare use to create beautiful language and stress meaning? Suggested Response: See discussion in Helpful Background section for a sample analysis. This is offered as a way to get students started and there are several other interpretations of the metrical structure of this passage. It is best if the students get into it enough to come up with some ideas on their own.

3.  Write out Robert Frost's poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" and underline the stresses. Identify the metric feet with irregular rhythm. What metrical devices, such as variations in the rhythm, different stresses within the iambic pentameter framework, caesura, and repetition of sounds, does Frost use to create beautiful language and stress meaning? Suggested Response: See discussion in Helpful Background section for a sample analysis. This is offered as a way to get students started and there are several other interpretations of the metrical structure of this poem. It is best if the students get into it enough to come up with some ideas on their own.

4.  Write out the first eight lines of the opening speech of "Richard III" and underline the stresses. Identify the metric feet with irregular rhythm. What metrical devices, such as variations in the rhythm, different stresses within the iambic pentameter framework, caesura, and repetition of sounds, does Shakespeare use to create beautiful language and stress meaning? Suggested Response: See discussion in Helpful Background section for a sample analysis. This is offered as a way to get students started and there are several other interpretations of the metrical structure of this poem. It is best if the students get into it enough to come up with some ideas on their own.

5.  Make up a short poem of at least six lines in iambic pentameter. [No suggested answer.]

6.  Make up a line of iambic pentameter that sounds like you, something you might actually say. [No suggested answer.]

7.  What did you think of Richard's relationship with the audience through the various acts of the play? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer but the best answer should reflect a complex, ambiguous, and highly changeable relationship.

8.  Is Richard's deformity a sign of his evil or is the rejection and inadequacy that he feels because of his deformity a cause of his evil? Suggested Response: Note that there is no evidence that the historical Richard III was deformed. There is no right answer and different actors play the part in different ways. Perhaps the best answer is that it could be both and that it doesn't matter. Prior injury is no excuse for evil actions. That a character in a play or in life is not disfigured is no guarantee that he will not be evil or do evil deeds.

9.  If you have already seen "Richard III" performed as a play or have watched the Olivier film version, describe the differences in the actor's portrayal of Richard III and Al Pacino's portrayal. Which did you like better? Explain why. [No suggested answer.]

10.  Explain why Richard III could woo Lady Anne as she prayed at the grave of her husband, one of his victims. The Queen told us, what did she say? Suggested Response: Because of restrictions placed upon them, aristocratic women prospered only when their husbands did and were completely dependent upon men. As the Queen said, "The loss of such a lord includes all harm." Act I, Scene III. After her husband was killed, Lady Anne faced a very uncertain future until Richard took notice of her. Of course, a future with Richard had its own very serious problems.

11.  What were some of the reactions people had to being interviewed on their feelings about Shakespeare? Did any surprise you? Did you see differences between some American and English points of view? Suggested Response: There is no one right answer.

12.  The movie notes that there are three parties that are involved in determining the meaning of the play: Shakespeare, the actors, and the scholars. Do they see things differently? Can you think of a fourth party that helps determine the play's meaning? Suggested Response: The genius of theater as an art form is that it combines the creativity of several different people: the playwright, the directors, the actors. (For early performances of a play, the playwright is frequently present and will rewrite scenes during rehearsals using the thoughts and reactions of the director and actors to help perfect the play and to spur his or her creativity.) They work as a group and the creativity of each feeds and inspires the creativity of the others. The result is better than any of the participants could have achieved alone. In addition, the perception of the play varies because each individual member of the audience brings his or her own unique set of experiences which colors their view of what is being presented on stage. The audience is the fourth party, distinct from the critics.

Social-Emotional Learning

BROTHERS

1.  Was there any love between the brothers shown in "Richard III?" What could cause this dysfunction? Suggested Response: Greed and ambition can turn family members against each other.

AMBITION

2.  What is the importance to this play of George's dream of gold and jewels among the skeletons at the bottom of the sea (Act I, Scene IV)? Suggested Response: Clarence, with premonition of his death, is beginning to deal with the question of his own evil actions. The thought is not completely formed, and he never realizes it before he is murdered. Gold and silver do not matter to skeletons.

Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

(Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner"
and uses The Six Pillars of Character to to organize ethical principles.)

Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.

1.  Beginning with the first speech of the play, Richard enlists the audience as a sympathetic witness to his evil deeds. It is only later on that we see him for the monster that he is. Read the first speech carefully. How does Shakespeare do this? What does this tell you about how bad actors often get their way in real life? Suggested Response: The first technique is to play upon the anger, greed and emotions of others. With the audience, Richard uses a mixture of taking the audience into his confidence, showing his delight in his facility for evil, sharing jokes with the audience at the expense of others, and eliciting sympathy for his deformity.

2.  Review each of the The Six Pillars of Character and see if you can find any attribute from the Pillars that Richard III, as portrayed by Shakespeare, honored. Suggested Response: The Pillar of "Responsibility" includes: "Persevere: keep on trying! -- Always do your best -- Use self-control -- Be self-disciplined -- Think before you act -- consider the consequences." Richard III as portrayed in the film certainly acted in this way. But was it ethical? These attributes apply to evil actions as well.

3.  One of Shakespeare's themes throughout his work is that evil succeeds in this world because of the moral complicity of others. Give some examples of this shown in the play. Suggested Response: Examples include: Lady Anne when she gives in to Richard's wooing despite the fact that he murdered her husband and father; Lord Brackenbury when he admits the murderers sent by Richard to the Tower; the archbishop when he fails to give sanctuary to the child-king and his brother; Lord Hastings who fails to stand up to Richard despite warnings and is later murdered by him.


Last updated January 14, 2008.




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